Work Placement with Syncbox Post – Day 1

Day 1 – 9th January 2018

For my work placement, I decided I wanted to work with a post production audio company, dealing with Film, TV or any sort of visual medium. I ended up choosing Syncbox Post, because of their links with the BBC and also their work with VR audio. The company is run by Rich Evans in Clarkenwell, and was started in 2003.

Upon arriving at Syncbox Post for the first time, I was informed that I would be sitting in on mixing, dubbing and ADR sessions for the second series of BBC Three mockumentary comedy This Country. I had been aware of the show previously and was immediately excited to see how the show was put together in terms of audio.

My first day was working with Rich, getting the episodes prepared for the actors to come in the next day for ADR recording, which involves re-recording lines of dialogue that the director and producers felt weren’t adequate enough when filming. This involved sitting through each of the episodes, making notes on both which lines need to be recorded and just general pointers on this mix and what could be improved. Doing this allowed me to see how particular and specific the sound of a BBC show has to be, in terms of levels and minimal details. It was explained to me by Rich however with the nature of the show, a mockumentary, the audio can be a little more rough and loose compared to most shows. All of the recording and mixing of the show was done in Pro Tools.

Once a note of all the ADR points had been made, points that were highlighted on screen by captions made by the BBC, or via email from the BBC Studios, the video files of the show were placed into an external piece of software called ??????????, which is used to make on-screen cues for the actors for when they re-record the lines of the dialogue. The cues include a 3-second count down for when to speak their lines, the lines themselves and also a red bar the shows the actors how long they have to read their lines.

Once these cues were created, Rich went on to show me how mistakes in recording, such as microphone rustle and wind could be fixed using editing techniques and plugins. One of the main techniques used was cross-fading. This allows two different pieces of audio to be joined together almost seamlessly, which means a mistake in recording can be cut completely, and then the audio either side can be cross-faded together, making it appear that a cut was never made. Another way to create this effect is to use a plugin built into Pro Tools called ‘Ambiance-Match’. With this plugin, you can highlight a piece of audio and it will study the background noise and ambiance, and generate an identical sound, that can be used to fill in cut gaps of audio.

Being apart of the preparation session was really rewarding and fascinating as it shows a side to audio production that most don’t see or even think about, allowing me to see the individual steps of providing audio for TV, and showing me there is more to it than just recording audio and mixing it. I had never thought about the way ADR cues have to be set up, and how much note taking there is when coming to analysing the audio.

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